Veterans Affairs Permanent and Total Disability Benefits

“It’s nice to get that percentage that you feel like you deserve and be an advocate for other people.”

– Joe M., Army Veteran

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Veterans whose combined service-connected injuries are determined to be 100 percent disabling and who do not have any chance of improvement may qualify for benefits based on a “permanent and total” 100% VA disability compensation rating.

A permanent and total (P&T) combined rating benefits a Veteran in multiple ways. Primarily, it makes the Veteran’s disabling conditions much less likely to be reevaluated and downgraded, which leads to a reduction in monthly benefits. A P&T designation also entitles the Veteran and his or her family to additional benefits.

US soldiers in Afghanistan crouch as a helicopter lands and debris flies around.

If you believe that your injuries are 100 percent disabling and that your current VA rating does not reflect the extent of your service-connected disability, an experienced Veterans’ disability lawyer can help you appeal your VA disability rating. At Berry Law, we believe that Veterans who have sacrificed for our nation should receive the full benefits available for their service-related disabilities. Veterans’ law is complex. Having a knowledgeable Veterans’ disability lawyer handle your VA rating appeal improves your chances of a successful disability claim outcome.

What is Permanent and Total Disability?

Total disability and permanent disability are two separate criteria that the VA considers. A Veteran can be totally disabled, but the disability may be temporary or permanent.

The VA considers a Veteran’s disability to be permanent when the medical evidence indicates that you will have the disability for the remainder of your life. Age can be a factor in the VA deciding whether a disability is considered permanent. As a result, younger Veterans may have more of a challenge obtaining a Permanent designation for their service-connected disability.

You may have one severe service-related disability or several service-connected disabilities that lead to a 100 percent VA disability rating.

The VA deems a disability to be total when the service-connected injury or impairment of body or mind leaves the Veteran unemployable or unable to maintain substantially gainful employment. Being awarded Total Disability as a result of Individual Unemployability provides for payment at the 100 percent rating. Substantial gainful employment is work that produces earnings above the poverty level.

A total disability may not necessarily be permanent. For instance, a Veteran can have a temporary total disability due to surgery or a combined total rating before improving and dropping down to a lower percentage.

Likewise, a Veteran can have a permanent disability that is not total. To qualify for a 100 percent P&T compensation rating, your service-related disability must meet the criteria to qualify as both permanent and total.

When these separate benefits combine, it creates a special status for the Veteran’s disability compensation. Veterans with a permanent and total rating will usually not be scheduled for a reexamination, the primary means by which rating reductions are initiated. If the VA did try to reduce your rating, the VA would have to show material and sustained improvement in your condition.

Certain types of service-connected disabilities automatically are deemed to support a VA rating of Permanent and Total Disability. They include the irreversible loss of use of both hands, both feet, one hand, and one foot, loss of vision in both eyes, or the Veteran being permanently bedridden.

Other conditions such as a diagnosis of cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other health issues may receive a 100 percent disability rating during a period of incapacity. But not be made permanent because of the possibility of medical improvement.

A 100 percent total disability rating is difficult to obtain. Permanent and total are two separate criteria. That is important to keep in mind.

If you disagree with your VA disability rating and wish to appeal the determination, talk to an accredited VA disability benefits lawyer at Berry Law.

Veterans Affairs 100% Permanent
and Total Disability Benefits

A Veteran with a 100 percent disability rating and no dependents will receive approximately $3,622 a month from the VA, based on VA compensation rates for 2023. A 100 percent disabled Veteran may receive additional amounts of compensation for a spouse, dependent children, or parents. Find your benefits based on your rating using our free calculator. 


Veterans with P&T 100 percent ratings and their families also may be eligible for added VA benefits. These include:

  • CHAMPVA: The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs is a health care program for eligible beneficiaries. Dependents of Veterans with a permanent and total 100 percent rating may be eligible for VA healthcare.
  • Chapter 35 DEA: The Chapter 35 Dependents Educational Assistance Program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents and survivors of certain Veterans.
  • Expedited Review of SSD: Veterans who have a compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent and Total also are eligible for expedited review of applications for Social Security disability benefits. A VA 100 percent P&T rating does not ensure that you will qualify for Social Security disability. But the medical evidence used to qualify for a Total and Permanent rating will be helpful in seeking Social Security Disability benefits. You still must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled.
  • State-Level Benefits: Depending on the state in which the Veteran lives, the Vet may be entitled to state-level benefits based on their permanent and total status.
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)— A Veteran’s permanent and total rating can make it easier for surviving spouses to qualify for death benefits after the Veteran’s death. For surviving dependents to qualify, the veteran must have died due to a service-connected disability rated as totally disabling or must have been rated as permanent and total for ten years prior to death.

Veterans who obtain a Permanent and Total 100 percent Disabled Rating also can have the peace of mind that the benefit is unlikely to be re-evaluated.

How to get permanent and total disability from the VA

It’s important to first determine whether your combined rating is already considered to be permanent and total. It’s not always easy to tell. The VA rarely expressly says, “Your conditions are considered permanent and total,” but there are ways to tell.

The rating decision on which the award is granted may list “Dependent Educational Assistance” or Eligibility to Dependents Chapter 35 DEA or language to the effect that no future exams are scheduled. If the Veteran has been awarded DEA, they have been awarded permanent and total status. No future exams scheduled also indicate a P&T rating.

If a Veteran is awarded a 100 percent combined rating and believes they’re qualified for a permanent and total rating, the Veteran can ask the VA to award the permanent and total distinction. To do this, they can simply write the VA a letter requesting the benefit. It also helps to attach medical records indicating that there will be no improvement in the Veteran’s condition.

A Veteran can also apply for a permanent and total rating based on Individual Unemployability even if their scheduler rating is less than 100 percent. In most ways, a total disability rating based on Individual Unemployability is treated as a scheduler total rating. This includes qualifying for a permanent and total award, assuming the condition rendering the Veteran unemployable is unlikely to improve. If you are appealing a rating decision, our VA disability attorneys at Berry Law can help you organize your medical evidence to present the strongest case for full benefits. We can also represent you in VA appeals.

Veterans Serving Veterans – Our Veterans Affairs Disability Lawyers Can Help

Berry Law was founded by Vietnam War Veteran and legendary trial lawyer John Stevens Berry Sr. We are proud to have many military Veterans among our attorneys and staff. They understand what it means to serve and know firsthand the struggles many of our clients face every day.

Afgahn OEF 2010

If you need to appeal a VA disability decision, please contact Berry Law’s team of accredited Veterans law attorneys. We have been representing Veterans before the VA, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims for decades.

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